K.L. from Suffolk County, Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I just recently moved in to my new condo. I’m in a wheelchair. I have a disability where both of my legs are paralyzed (due to polio). I have a handicap placard. I have an assigned spot but if someone parks to the driver side I would not be able to get in my car. I do not have any special addition to the car other than a hand control. I would put myself in the car and lift my chair into the driver seat. I raised this issue with the condo association and they rejected me from parking in the handicap spot as an assigned spot. This would take away from my independence if I can’t just park and go or come and go when I want. Now I would have to check to see if someone is near me and ask for assistance. Or when I pull into the spot before going in I have to get someone to pull in for me? How should I proceed?
Mister Condo replies
:K.L., although condominiums and HOAs have slightly different methodologies for handling handicapped parking requests than a typical commercial property does, the rules of the Fair Housing Authority (FHA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) still apply. Your request has to be heard by the Board and they then have to respond based on the “reasonableness” of the request. Because their response is subjective, it is also open to challenge. In your case, I would have to recommend that you speak with a locally qualified attorney to see if the response given by your Board is likely to be deemed “reasonable” if challenged in court. I realize that your ability to remain as independent as possible is your primary objective. While it is possible that the Board can be more accommodating, the Board’s legal responsibility ends with their interpretation of “reasonable accommodation”. I don’t personally think your request is unreasonable but I am neither an attorney nor am I familiar with the exact details of the parking lots in your condo. Typically, parking is at a premium and there are not lots of option for adjusting the parking. However, since there is already some handicapped parking in the lot, the Board may be persuaded to set aside one of those spaces for your exclusive use. I sure hope that’s how it ends for you. Good luck!